21
Sep
12

beads and pots

Our speaker for our Centre for African Art and Archaeology last night was Akin Ogundiran from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. His talk outlined his work on the expansion of the Oyo empire of southern Nigeria in the past few centuries.

Prior to the talk, Sam and I had a happy while showing him some of our pottery and the handful of beads we have from the last season’s excavation. Akin confirmed that many of the beads are, as suspected, lantana, a sort of jasper which occurs in mines close to our research area (I was told of one when working in Parc W). Lately Olivier and I have been reading up on this stone (see for example this book) and I look forward to hearing his forthcoming paper on the circulation of this material. It is certainly interesting (though actually probably not surprising) that the material made it to Oyo. These beads are quite common. Akin’s pottery from Oyo is remarkably fine – the sherds he showed us were thoroughly burnished and decorated with incisions and a very small twisted cord roulette. He tells us that the colonisation of the landscape by Oyo is readily visible through the appearance of this particular pottery type.

I look forward to more exciting discussions at the African archaeology meeting in Cambridge this week-end. I’m introducing a session on Sunday which deals with ‘Connections’. There are six papers with a wide geographical spread and a general aim to show how African communities were connected to other parts of the continent or other parts of the world. A fast-moving scene, so look out for the conference publication in due course.

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About this blog

This blog has been set up to chart the activities and research findings of two projects led by Anne Haour, an archaeologist from the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.

The first project, called Crossroads, brings together a team of archaeologists, historians and anthropologists studying the Niger Valley where it borders Niger and Bénin (West Africa). We are hoping to shed more light on the people that inhabited the area in the past 1500 years and to understand how population movements and craft techniques shaped the area's past.

The second project, called Cowries, examines the money cowrie, a shell which served as currency, ritual object and ornament across the world for millennia, and in medieval times most especially in the Maldive Islands of the Indian Ocean and the Sahelian regions of West Africa. We hope to understand how this shell was sourced and used in those two areas.

These investigations are funded by the European Research Council as part of the Starting Independent Researcher Programme (Seventh Framework Programme – FP7) and by the Leverhulme Trust as a Research Project Grant. The opinions posted here are however Anne Haour's own!

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